Regardless of who we are, where we're from, and when we became members, each of us inducted as youth have something in common: we are members of the Order of the Arrow because our peers in our units selected us for the honor.
But why is it that we were chosen? The question actually goes much deeper, all the way back to the origins of the Order. When Dr. Goodman set out to create this organization, his thinking didn't just revolve around the boy. It was focused on the individual unit as well.
He is quoted as saying: "Let it be remembered that the Order of the Arrow was created to help the unit - to help it present its membership a better ideal of the inner qualities of the good Scout camper. Qualities of character, like cheerfulness and service, are hard for a boy or a man to understand in the abstract. They come easier when seen in human life. Let us realize the significance of the Order in the unit - for the unit is our best hope in Scouting."
The home of an Arrowmen has always been his unit, and so it should continue to be. The Scouts in our troops chose us for membership because they saw in us the qualities of a servant leader. Their hope was to recognize us for what we'd done, but most importantly for what we have yet to do.
As a Scout becomes more involved in the Order of the Arrow, finding the balance between troop and OA events can grow more difficult. Not too long ago, I remember having to decide between a troop camp out and a retreat my lodge was putting on. I chose the campout, and had a great time hiking in Sequoia National Park with the new Scouts in my troop, most who had never seen the area before.
The truth is, I don't always choose my troop outing. Sometimes I will make a commitment to provide service at an OA function that falls on a weekend the troop is going on a trip. Likewise, in the summer of 2000, I went to NOAC instead of on my troop's 50-mile hike. The key is to find a balance.
So often it seems that a good Arrowman is defined by his activity in the OA. Yet, when you think about our primary duty - the unit - this isn't always true. I know Scouts in my own troop that make few OA meetings, and even fewer events. I see these same Arrowmen teaching eleven year-old Scouts how to fold a flag, or to tie a taut-line hitch. These same young men serving as Senior Patrol Leader, or at the front of the group when hiking through Yosemite. They may not be an active member of the Lodge Executive Committee, or the best Nutiket the ceremonies team has ever seen, but they're serving the youth back in the troop.
Besides our reason for being inducted, we all have another thing in common. Each of us has been endowed with the lessons of the Ordeal. We were told that "he who serves his fellows, is of all his fellows greatest". I'd ask that we all ponder those words, and ask ourselves what context Goodman might have put them, and how that might apply to our lives.
Riley Berg is a member of Troop 35 in Fresno, CA. The troop meets every Tuesday night, and that's usually where you will find Riley.